India commits to new transport aircraft

Heightened awareness of the steady growth in regional air traffic among small and medium-sized cities has convinced the Indian government to commit some $2 billion for the development of a 70- to 90-seat civilian aircraft. “This is a strategic sector where there is a need to have a presence in the long term, particularly in view of the rapid growth of our aviation sector,” said Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Plans call for India’s National Aeronautics Laboratory (NAL) and Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) to participate in the design and manufacture of the airplane, expected to reach the market in seven years. “Development and production partnerships with Indian private-sector firms as well as overseas institutions are envisaged,” according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s office. “Efforts will be made to leverage the offsets that are available in the defense sector for building critical domestic capabilities in high-precision manufacturing and avionics.”

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